PM needs a lesson on crime

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters
Published On Sat Nov 20 2010.    Ron Charach and Gary Dale

Charles Pascal’s piece underlines the gravity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s naive assumptions about both the true incidence of, and the prevention of, crime.

Lawyer/researcher Paula Mallea may refer to Statistics Canada to buttress her report, “The Fear Factor: Stephen Harper’s Tough on Crime Agenda,” but our Prime Minister has contempt for the very process involved in the gathering of accurate statistics.

He lacks sophistication about psychological illness as a significant contributor to individuals getting in trouble with the law, and seems uninterested in the causes of recidivism, as well as the costly health consequences of incarceration — like depression, suicidal behaviour, HIV, TB and Hepatitis C.

This same lack of curiosity contributed to his politically expedient determination to dismantle gun control in Canada. Tough on crime slogans like “Three strikes, you’re out,” “If you do the crime, you pay the time,” and “More cops on the beat,” only detract from serious alternative policy measures that can actually impact on the problem in a preventative way.

Ron Charach, MD,Toronto

Why does Harper support crime? Given that longer sentences and more prisons have been demonstrated around the world to not only not deter crime but to be correlated with higher crime rates, and given that Harper is clearly not stupid, one can only conclude that he wants more crime.

This is borne out by the G20 security fiasco, where his security forces allowed vandals to run rampant while police harassed peaceful protesters. Crime justifies excessive responses by police. It’s been used for most of last decade to excuse draconian anti-terrorism measures, but that is getting old now.

With the Afghanistan war drums petering out, he needs a new reason to subvert our civil rights. After all, what use is power if the courts can get in your way?

Gary Dale, West Hill

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1 Comment

  1. If you’re concerned about the Conservatives using fear tactics to pass legislation then please be aware of the following: Parliament is currently debating Bill C-23B, an act which will make certain that individuals with certain convictions will never be eligible for record suspension.

    According to the National Parole Board only 4% of the over 300,000 people who have received a pardon has ever reoffended. However, under the proposed record suspensions legislation the vast majority (96%) will be forced to live longer under the burden of a criminal record for which they have paid their fines, served their jail time and completed their probation.

    Having a criminal record can be very damaging to an individual’s opportunity for: employment, getting a job promotion, bond-ability, travel, education, getting a loan or mortgage, immigration, volunteering, adoption and child custody. The proposed legislation will thus make it more difficult for these individuals to remove their criminal records from public databases so they can successfully rehabilitate into society as law-abiding citizens. This legislation may actually INCREASE recidivism for individuals who are prevented from reintegrating back into society.

    To learn more about the possible effects of proposed record suspensions legislation and for general information about bill C-23B please visit:

    http://canadiansforajustsociety.webs.com/11pardonsandbillc23.htm

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